On his sixteenth birthday they took him to the special church.
There, they said, he would undergo the trials and the tortures that would cleanse him, redeem him and make him worthy. Worthy to look upon it, to see it, at last. God’s face.
His elder bother had done this, three years ago. After that he was filled with zeal and became a missionary, taking the word out to the world. He wore the scars on his face with a fierce pride, making his younger brother envious.
But now it was his turn. His turn to suffer. His turn to rise.
He could endure anything, just for that promised moment. Anything.
And he did. Whips, chains, fire, knives and more. As second son he had a harder road. For it was believed that each child in succession was further from purity and had further to go.
Every boy, every boy, further than the one before. And girls never allowed. cherished, protected but never allowed to enter this special church.
He was glad he was second and last and that he did not have sisters, nor any younger brother who would need to ensure more. For he wanted to endure the most.
And he did.
Afterwards, bruised, broken and bereft of any real feeling, they carried him to the room. They lay him down and told him to look up, and that, in time, the face of God would be shown to him.
He waited hours, days. Nothing but the dark. A fever grew in his body, matching the one in his soul. He thought he might die, and if he did so before he saw God’s face, he would be lost. So he held on, and on, and on.
Till this day, when out of the dark the face came. Old, wild, strange. A pale, curious sight that was nothing like he had imagined. Just gazing at him, the ruination of his body, the near death tremors from his weakened limbs.
And god saw this, and saw that it was good.
If he had any moisture left in his body he would have cried tears of gratitude, but he was dry, so dry that when he spoke – when he croaked – that he had seen the face of god, they barely heard him.
Still they did, they came and they tended to his wounds, and in time he would be well.
For he had seen the face of God at last.
And it was good.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018